Monday, October 15, 2012

Being: Brendan Rodgers

It has been an extremely challenging start to the English Premier League. As an unabashed Manchester United devotee I’ve had to deal with De Gea’s flaps, Vidic’s dickey knee, Giggs’ arthritic condition, Scholes’ continued calming presence as our midfield’s saving grace, and Nani. 

But more demanding than accepting an opening game loss to Everton or the shambles of a performance against Spurs, has been the display of self restraint required not take the piss out of Liverpool FC at every available opportunity.

I’ve used every fiber of my being to hold back, and my word it’s been a thankless task.

Believe me it hasn’t been through a lack of ammunition. It’s been Liverpool’s worst start since before Alexander was Great. Three points off the bottom, negative goal difference, losing to Man United, letting Andy Carroll go without bringing in a replacement, floating Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and/or Emile Heskey as possible solutions to their threadbare striking options, Luis Suarez trialing for the Uruguayan diving team, Jonjo Shelvey’s head, Raheem Sterling’s power sperm, and dominating possession without scoring goals. The list goes on, and on, and on.  

Throughout all of this I’ve remained merciful. As the Good Book says, do unto others etcetera, etcetera.

 But Lord please forgive me. I can hold back no longer.

The teaser trailer for the next episode of ‘Being: Liverpool’ features Liverpool gaffer Brendan Rodgers (desperately trying to) inspire his team by brandishing three envelopes during a team talk. He tells his charges he knows there are three players among them that will let him down the cause this season, and he implores them to do whatever they can to avoid having their name penned in aforementioned envelope.

Sound ridiculous?

Because if f#cken is!!!

If you haven’t seen it I implore you to Google ‘brendan rodgers envelopes’. It doesn’t matter how bad your day has been I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your dial…unless of course you’re unlucky enough to belong to the Liverpool faithful.

The look on his player’s faces is priceless. There’s obviously a disconnect between the message Rodgers is trying to deliver and the information that’s being absorb by the players. Supposedly Sir Alex pulled a similar stunt in the early 90’s with Manchester United to great effect. Unfortunately Rodgers has neither the gravitas nor the charisma to pull this off. It’s hard to take seriously a Northern Irishman who looks like an extra from ‘The Hobbit’.

First of all most Scousers struggle with the simple task of reading and writing, so there are obvious issues with most of them not being able to recognise their names in print. Rodgers may be better served just printing their numbers which are more easily identified, although still a challenge for many Liverpudlians.

Raheem Sterling stares at the envelopes in the hope they all contain a baby bonus cheque to support his growing brood.  Three kids at 17 years of age!!! Believe me this guy needs all the financial assistance he can get. I know Stewart Downing is secretly optimistic his name IS in one of the envelopes…at least that way he’s confident he’ll get a run on the park this season. Ditto Jordan Henderson.

Joe Allen ponders the prospect of his name being in the mix. He might be able to force a move back to Swansea City. And Stevie G has similar thoughts. If he drops the ball he might get to join his soul-mate Dirk Kuyt at Fenerbah├že. Finally Jamie Carragher is praying for Brendan Rodgers’ name to figure at season’s end. Is he the only one pining for Rafa’s return?

Meanwhile the international contingent has no idea what Rodgers is babbling on about. Luis Suarez, fresh from abusing young Oussama Assaidi, wants tickets to the upcoming ‘John Terry talks Race Relations’ seminar, while you get the impression Fabio Borini is looking to get a one-way ticket back to Italy. He was led to believe his transfer was to Liverpool, Australia, joining his compatriot Alessandro Del Piero down under. Instead he’s been duped with a depressing stint in Merseyside.  

There’s almost a Shakespearean quality to the tragedy that has become Liverpool FC. Or for some, myself included, a Shakespearean comedy is more apt a description. This tale has featured an aging Prince unable to relinquish his claim to the throne, dour servants loyal to the cause, a big friendly giant from the North, a Latino court jester, a shylock ready to take a pound of flesh for payment, and the return and fall of a King.

I can’t wait for the next installment in this epic saga.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bathurst - boobs, beer, burnouts and a little bit more


There are few, if any, sporting events around the globe that simply take the name of host city. The Great Race has had a number of aliases over the years – Hardie Ferodo 500, Tooheys 1000, Super Cheap Auto 1000 – but sponsor acknowledgment aside, motorsport enthusiasts and rev-heads the world over know this 161 lap ball busting test of man and machine as Bathurst.

And it’s my favourite time of year in the sporting calendar.

My experiences with Bathurst date back as far as I can remember. My old man would always celebrate the race with a BBQ. This wasn’t just another excuse to throw a few steaks over some hot ash. For me it represented a ceremony, an offering to the Sporting God’s if you will. Invariably after six hours I’d join him in lamenting Dickie Johnson’s poor luck as Peter Perfect would win again, and again, and again.

My first trip to Bathurst was in 1987. I was a wide eyed 10 year old crashing a party of old ethnics and teen mechanics. The race back then was known as the James Hardie 1000. It was the first year of the Ford Sierra’s and marked a foreign invasion of European mercenaries brave enough to tackle the greatest challenge in motorsport.

I remember celebrating the one-two win by the Ford Eggenberger Motorsport team. Third was Peter Brock and Co. in a Holden Dealer Team Commodore. Brocky of course broke into tears at finishing third, and kicked up enough of a stink that a year later the two Ford’s were disqualified.

That year my love affair with Mount Panorama was forged stronger than the rings of Mordor in the fire of Mount Doom.

Over the next seven years I made five trips to the Mountain, and each experience was life changing. Not because of what happens on the track...which is undoubtedly some of the most exciting motor racing on the planet, but for all of experiences in and around the campsites on top of the Mountain.

Despite the Ford versus Holden rivalry that underpins the Great Race, what Bathurst is really about is the letter ‘B’ - boobs, beer and burnouts. Bathurst offers more boobs than the Bachelor Party, more beer than a Bavarian bier hall and more burnt rubber than the Mardi Gras.

I believe more beer is consumed at Bathurst than throughout the entire summer of cricket. It’s like a mini Oktoberfest wrapped into one dirty week. I remember during the Tooheys 1000 years the organisers, in all their wisdom, decreed that alcohol purchases would be limited to two cans per person, with both cans opened on the spot to ensure people wouldn’t be accumulating stockpiles of brew. Showing some real ingenuity, a group of Mexicans (Melbournites...South of the Border...get it?) hijacked a Tooheys truck in the middle of the night and confiscated the contents, which were generously shared with all of the campsites between McPhillamy Park and Skyline. Good times.

Nothing describes the Bathurst experience better than four simple words: “show us ya tits”. Whether you look like Scarlett Johansson, Oprah Winfrey or Julia Gillard, if you’re out and about without a male chaperone you’ll definitely hear that famous catch cry. As a young teen excited by the occasionally flash of nipple on SBS I was enthralled at the prospect that all you needed to do was ask the question. What is even more fascinating was sometimes the girls obliged! There were more bare boobs at Bathurst that an annual international breastfeeding convention.

Burnouts are a no-brainer. Pool together a group of rev-heads, add the smell of high octane fuel together with the sound of V8’s rumbling around each day and you’ve got every dick with a driving licence thinking he’s Larry Perkins. Anytime a car with a bit of balls would come into one of the makeshift intersections around the camping area a group of bystanders would inevitably make the doughnut sign. And for the next 45 seconds, amid a hell of a lot of whooping and hollering, a dust cloud would appear that would disguise the sight of a car spinning in circles at pace before launching itself into the distance.

There is one recollection from Bathurst that I’d dearly love to wipe from my memory banks. It doesn’t involve boobs, beer or burnouts, but rather another ‘B’ word...bestiality. Without going into too much graphic detail, let’s just say I witnessed an experience between an old man and a cattle dog that would make Joel Monaghan blush. There are things an impressionable teen should never have to witness!!!

Excited canines aside, my Bathurst experiences have been memorable. And I can’t wait to get my own BBQ going tomorrow, sacrificing a few T-bones for the God’s and enjoying six straight hours of motorsport madness.
Here’s hoping the God’s appreciate my offering and help the Blue Oval greet the chequered flag first.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rabies Rampant: A Public Service Announcement

Reports disclosed on World Rabies Day, 28 September, indicate that this fatal disease is knocking on Australia’s doorstep, presenting serious ecological, public health, economic and social problems to the country.

After recent events in Sydney one wonders whether disease is already present in Sydney.

Prominent academics and health experts were alarmed by images of a Bulldog frothing at the mouth and gnawing at the ear of a high profile Australian footballer last Sunday.  This was followed by news that a pack of wild Bulldogs were menacing the local community in the Canterbury / Bankstown area on Monday.

The Bulldogs were allegedly extremely aggressive, particularly to humans, viciously barking at females. They were also ‘marking their territory’ by urinating wherever they walked.  

Spread mainly through biting, the disease infects the central nervous system and causes inflammation to the brain, a symptom obviously affecting these Bulldogs.

Academics believe that all it would take is one Bulldog, perhaps from the United Kingdom where rabies is still rampant, to bite other Bulldogs in his pack, thereby transmitting the terrible disease.

Whilst there have been calls for the new NRL Independent Commission to eradicate the problem, perhaps a visit to the local veterinary hospital for a quiet slumber would be more appropriate.

Two great podcasts to check out

I used to enjoy talk back radio, but the constant drivel is no longer amusing. I'll probably jump back onboard when I'm a pensioner complaining about the latest increases in energy prices. And I've fallen out of touch with music so I don't listen to FM either. Instead I devote my listening time to podcasts - Football Ramble, The Basketball Jones, Football Weekly, NBA Today, BS Report, The Manchester United Redcast - to name a few that I subscribe to. 
Recently I came across two must hear pods that I encourage you all to take the time to enjoy:

BS Report: Bill Simmons speaks to Arnie about body building, Hollywood and Wilt Chamberlain trying to ride a horse!!!

BBC Five Live Sports Special on the amazing Alex Zanardi: From Formula One, to Indy Car, back to Formula and then to a handcycle...awesome story